The judiciary is independent from other branches of government. In the
words of a former Canadian prime minister, Arthur Meighen, judges are in
"a place apart" from the other institutions of our society. Governments
appoint and pay judges, but once appointed judges are shielded from
bureaucratic control. Judges must be able to make courageous, even
unpopular decisions knowing that no one - a chief justice, another
judge, a government official or even the most powerful politician - can
fire them or cut their salaries as retaliation. Justice is not a
popularity contest, and judicial independence also protects judges who
make controversial decisions that spark public outrage. The concept of
judicial independence is enshrined in the Charter, which guarantees
everyone accused of crimes that their case will be heard by "an
independent and impartial tribunal." Independence is vital to fostering
public confidence in the fairness and objectivity of the justice system.
The Supreme Court of Canada has described judicial independence as "the
cornerstone, a necessary prerequisite for judicial impartiality."